- Interact with elephants at a sanctuary in Jaipur
- View Jaipur from above in a hot air balloon
- Peruse the colorful markets in the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai
- Take a safari ride to see wild tigers in Ranthambore National Park
- Cruise the backwaters of Kerala via boat
When to Visit
Weather is an important factor in considering when to visit India and planning where to go. The best time to visit most parts of the country is from late October to the end of April. Try to avoid the monsoon season, which lasts from the end of May until September.
Winter has a moderate, pleasant climate, with hotter temperatures already hitting South India. Northern areas, like Delhi and Rajasthan, stay much cooler, especially at night. Remember to pack a range of clothes if you plan on exploring both regions.
You'll also want to check the calendar to find out when India's cultural and religious festivals are due to take place. Diwali, the five-day festival of lights and India's biggest holiday, usually starts in October or at the beginning of November. Holi, the festival of colors, is always sometime in March.
For more information on India's biggest holidays and festivals, you can check out this article.
Places to Visit and Family Activities
With a country as large as India, it’s best to look at the country by region. The three areas below feature family-friendly places to explore.
Rajasthan: Elephants, Tiger Safaris and Historic Sites
A great introduction to India starts with a tour in Delhi to catch Mughal landmarks such as the Red Fort and then makes its way to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. When visiting the Taj Mahal, be sure to also stop in the 16th-century Mughal ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri.
You can continue exploring the palace-filled desert state of Rajasthan, which contains must-see cities like Jaipur and Udaipur as well as the jungles of Ranthambore. Notable historical attractions in Jaipur include Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and the Amber Fort, a magnificent sandstone palace complex.
But skip the elephant ride up to Amber Fort. For a more humane interaction with elephants, you can visit the Elefantastic sanctuary, which rescues and rehabilitates elephants from the tourism industry. Another fun family activity is a hot air balloon over Jaipur, where you'll get to view its sprawling palaces, forts, and surrounding villages from way up above.
When traveling with kids, car services with a driver are an ideal way to see the countryside and the easiest way to travel between sites. Be sure to make your way to Udaipur, a romantic oasis in the sandy landscape of Rajasthan known for its lakes and lush gardens.
Take a boat ride on Lake Pichola, where you'll catch views of opulent palaces, soft rolling hills, and packed temples. On your cruise, you'll see the Taj Lake Palace, built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1746 and now a floating five-star hotel. Save time for an afternoon exploring the City Palace, a five-centuries-old palace complex famous for its rich architecture and history spanning the Mewar dynasty.
In Ranthambore National Park, you’ll have the opportunity to spot leopards and sloth bears, as well as the park's most famous residents: its majestic Bengal tigers. Daily safari rides in open-air jeeps give you a good chance for animal sightings in their natural habitat. Older children will enjoy the ride, but tiger safaris aren't usually recommended for younger kids.
Read more to learn about our 13-day itinerary in Rajasthan.
South India and Maharashtra: Colorful Street Markets, Backwaters, and Beaches
In South India and Maharastra, you can explore the action-packed metropolis of Mumbai, comb the beaches of the former Portuguese colony of Goa, and float down backwaters in the tropical Malabar coastal region of Kerala.
The state of Maharashtra is home to Mumbai, the vibrant capital of Bollywood, India's biggest film industry. To see modern India in action, a visit to Mumbai is a must. The city includes plenty of activities for children and families.
Make sure to browse through the various outdoor bazaars and colorful stalls to pick up souvenirs, silver jewelry, vibrant kurtas, leather sandals, and artisan goods. Must-visit markets in include Colaba Causeway and Chor Bazaar. Stop for an afternoon tea at the elegant Sea Lounge at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which has views of the Mumbai Harbor and Gateway of India, an iconic, British-built seaside landmark, from its storied windows.
A quick ferry ride from the Gateway to India takes you to Elephanta Island, where you'll find the Elephanta Caves—ancient, rock-cut caves that are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Goa offers white sand, palm-fringed beaches with Portuguese-influenced architecture, vibrant markets and tasty Goan cuisine at open-air beach restaurants. South Goa, with its laid-back coasts, is more suited for families than the more boisterous north. Try Calangute Beach for kid-friendly amenities or Agonda, with its quiet, shallow shores.
For added adventure, you can also go on a dolphin-spotting boat tour or splash in the waters of Dudhsagar Falls, India's fourth-tallest waterfall.
The cuisine in Goa is fragrant and mild, with a whisper of Portuguese-influence. You’ll be able to taste delicacies like chamucas, crispy Goan samosas, and fish recheado, deep fried fish stuffed with a spice and chili paste.
Kerala, one of India's southernmost states, is known for its serene, Arabian Sea-facing beaches. You can also explore a tranquil network of rivers known as the backwaters by boat, including large houseboats where you can even stay for a night or two. There's also the green, mist-covered hills of the Western Ghats, where you can immerse yourself in lush wildlife—and try your hand at tiger and elephant spotting—in areas like Periyar National Park and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
The East: Sacred Sites and Rolling Hills
East India offers some of the countries most captivating destinations. Kolkata is a dynamic, culturally-rich city famous for its colonial architecture, while Darjeeling is an idyllic hill station known for its brand-name tea plantations.
In Darjeeling, families can enjoy ethereal views of the misty hills, outdoor hikes, and tours of the famous tea plantations. A unique way to experience the region is with a trip on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a 19th-century track (and UNESCO World Heritage site) also known as the Darjeeling Toy Train.
There are different ways to experience the Ganges on your trip to India. In Varanasi, India's spiritual capital and one of the world's oldest inhabited cities, pilgrims gather by the thousands to bathe in the sacred waters. You can opt for a dawn or dusk boat ride. If adventure sports are more your speed, white water rafting is available on the stretch of rapids between Rishikesh and Haridwar, which is a great option for families with older children.
Family Friendly Tips
Families are at the center of Indian society, making India very a family-friendly destination to visit. But make sure everyone stays safe and healthy with basic precautions. Before planning your visit, make sure to check with your doctor about recommended vaccinations.
One of the best parts of traveling through India is sampling the country's mouth-watering regional cuisines. But keep an eye out for hygiene and make sure you're eating in safe spots, since food poisoning can be a common ailment. It's a good idea to steer clear of raw vegetables and fruit unless you're in an established restaurant. Filtered or bottled water is usually available.
When making hotel reservations, make sure you'll have access to a doctor on call and to amenities like air conditioning. You can also check for kid-friendly features like swimming pools and satellite television.
As you would in any big city, be sure to watch out for pickpocketers and tourist scams. While India is generally a safe country to visit, road conditions can be risky, so make sure you have a trustworthy driver or are using reliable public transportation services.